WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil,  of the Beaux Arts School American classic sculptor of Native images and American history.  ~ World’s Fairs, statues, monuments, coins, and more… ~ Hot-links ( lower right) lead to works by Hermon A. MacNeil.   ~ Over 200 of stories & 2,000 photos form this virtual MacNeil Gallery stretching east to west  New York to New Mexico ~ Oregon to S. Carolina.   ~ 2021 marks the 155th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth. ~~Do you WALK or DRIVE by MacNeil sculptures DAILY!   ~~ CHECK it OUT!

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

Archive for Hermon A. MacNeil bio

Cecelia W. Muench MacNeil

In 1944 Carol Louise Brooks MacNeil died after extended illness. 

During her months of declining health, she was nursed at home by her family and a home health nurse named, Cecelia Weick Muench, RN. 

Cecelia Weick had served in the US Army as a battlefield Nurse during the World WarCaring for wound soldiers in war zones, she was no stranger to trauma and suffering.

As a young girl, her father taught her to appreciate art and took her to museums.  He introduced her to “The Sun Vow” at the MMA.  He told her that Hermon MacNeil was a “great American sculptor”. So she knew the name and fame of the Sculptors Macneil all her adult life.

So when an opportunity came for Cecelia to enter the MacNeil home and care for Carol during her dying months, she was more than just “another nurse.”  She was a battle-hardened R.N. who could appreciate the works and careers of these two sculptors as their lives were parting in the months of Carol’s dying. 

She must have brought a nurse’s compassion and an art lovers appreciation with her into this family of sculptors.

In her later years, Cecelia described herself by saying:

“I am familiar, too familiar, with death and dying, with the totality that is the human condition.” 1

She had a front row seat to Hermon’s lived-grief over the loss of his “Carrie.”  But as Carol’s condition worsened, the needs exceeded the home-care options of the day.  She was admitted to the Jamacia (Queens) Hospital.

Eventually, Carol Brooks MacNeil died there on June 22, 1944.

With the death of Carol MacNeil on June 22, 1944, the fifty-year partnership of the “Sculptors MacNeil” ended.  Their connection which began in the “White City” of the Chicago Worlds Fair, continued through their years of training in Rome and Paris, maturing in Queens, NY, during the four decades they shared their College Point Studio and home.

For the next two years Hermon MacNeil continued to live alone in his College Point home.   Next door was to the stone Studio building where he and Carol had sculpted together through the years of their marriage.   Hermon must have felt an emptiness without Carol in his life, home and studio.

Postcard of MacNeil studio in College Point. From the webmaster’s collection.

Two 2nd Marriages

Hermon married Cecilia W. Muench in 1945.  Cecelia was nearly 30 years younger than Hermon.  Both of them had been recently widowed.

After serving in the World War, Cecelia Muench had married and continued her career as a RN.  In 1940 a snapshot of her life was captured in the 1940 U.S. Census.  She was 43 years old living in Queens, New York, with Karl, her husband, two daughters, Dorothy (18), Sarah (17) and a son, Karl (13).   Her mother, Anna Weick also lived with the family. 

Cecilia Weick first heard the name of “Hermon Atkins MacNeil” in 1909 on her 12th birthday.  To celebrate, her father took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Ascending into the American Wing, they sat down on a bench near MacNeil’s sculpture group of “The Sun Vow.”  Sixty-four years later, Cecelia described that sculpture this way:

My own grandson in front of “The Sun Vow” at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The Sun Vow portrays two Indians, elder and younger, chief and future brave, grandfather and grandson.  The grandfather, his body still subtle and strong, is weary just the same. The viewer knows that the chieftain’s feathered head-dress … will never again be worn.  The old Indian holds this symbol of authority on his lap as he presses the young Indian to him.  The grandchild holds an arrowless bow, symbolizing the celebration of coming of age in the in Indian lore but transcending the culture of any age.  For when the young brave is able to shoot an arrow into the son, far enough awayso that its decent to earth passes unseen, then he has attained manhood. 

After at least five minutes of silence my father commented.

“Ceil, the man who created this work is surely one of the greatest American Sculptors. Never, never forget his name.”

I am still a romantic.  My father’s words were to be part of my destiny.  37 years later I married Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

The photo on the cover shows the original plaster model of Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s “The Sun Vow”, executed in Rome while the sculptor was on a Reinhart scholarship.

Cecelia told this story of her 12th birthday in opening paragraphs of an article that she published in 1974, under the title, “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” 1 Two additional articles completed the series of her remembrances.

Sculptor Americanus

MORE from this series of articles by Cecelia Weick MacNeil will be told in the coming months of the New Year.

So return

here

to

 

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/

for

MORE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SOURCES:

  1. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974,  pp. 10-13, 54.
  2. Lynn H. Burnett. (Editor’s Comments:)“Hermon Atkins MacNeil in Historical Perspective”.  The Antiques Journal April 1974, pp. 4, 5, 48.
  3. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Second in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, May 1974,  pp. 28-31.
  4. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974,  pp. 32-35, 51.
  5.  

 

Out of public view, deep in the archives of the Chicago Art Institute rests a 127 year old bust of Charles F. Browne,  American artist.

Cast in Bronze with a dark brown patina, the piece is signed on pedestal; “MacNeil ’94” / “American Art Bronze Foundry. J. Berchem. / Chicago”

Charles Francis Browne, MacNeil Colleague and American Artist.

The subject was Hermon MacNeil’s colleague, frontier traveling companion, and studio mate in their Marquette Building studio.  The piece came out of their years in Chicago after the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

The archival piece enters its third century of history “OFF VIEW” at the archives of  the Art Institute of Chicago.  Here we offered it exclusively to You, —“Friends of Hermon Atkins MacNeil”  —  & followers of ‘HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com’.   ENJOY !!

1895.   With Hamlin Garland as their guide, the pair rode by train and horse back to the south west territories of the Navajo, Hopi, (Moqui). MacNeil recalled years later, “We found Indians a plenty and perhaps because I was keenly interested in them I was in heaven and I flared to a high pitch, working from sunrise to dark. …”

“Browne painted murals for the Children’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition and became an instructor at the Art Institute of Chicago’s rapidly growing school.” 2

Hamilin Garland and Browne were “double” brothers-in-law having married sisters of Lorado Taft, the chief sculptor of the Exposition. Taft was the brother of both of their wives.  They all along with MacNeil were part of the Eagles Nest, a summer artist  colony in Oregon, Illinois.  Browne was a founder of the summer group.

Portrait of Charles F. Browne by H. A. MacNeil 1894. Art Institute of Chicago. [Signed on pedestal; “MacNeil ’94” / “American Art Bronze Foundry. J. Berchem. / Chicago”] 1

The adventure in the Summer of 1895 shaped the lives of all three men, but especially MacNeil who evolved an enduring interest in the Native American Indian as a subject of Beaux Arts sculpture.  

The dating of the bust of C. F. Browne precedes their venture to the Southwest Territory but documents the shared years of their early careers in the 19th century.  

Writing in 1943, MacNeil recalls these years in Chicago:

“I took a small studio in Chicago and tried to see if I could make a go of it. C. F. Browne, painter, was also stranded there and I invited him to share a studio with me. During that year (evenings) I was asked to teach sculpture and drawing in the school of the Art Institute and also had the good fortune to have four bas-reliefs to do illustrating the life of Pere Marquette.”  [ MacNeil, Autobiography

MacNeil’s four bas-reliefs of the life of Pere Marquette still make frame the four-door entrance of the building

The Marquette Building panels after cleaning efforts several years ago sparkle with history and beauty at the 140 South Dearborn Street entrance.

Chicago Architecture celebrated the building renovation and mentioned the 126 year old sculpture panels”

“At the main entrance are four bronze relief sculptures by Hermon A. MacNeil illustrating Father Marquette and Louis Joliet’s travels. They depict the pair launching their canoes, meeting Native Americans, arriving at the Chicago River, and interring Marquette’s body. On the revolving doors are kick plates with tomahawks and push plates with panther heads designed by Edward Kemeys (of the Art Institute lions fame). The vestibule features French and Catholic motifs like fleurs-de-lis and the cross.” 

~ ~ ~ ~  Chicago Art Institute Notations for this work ~ ~ ~ ~

Portrait of Charles F. Browne by H. A. MacNeil 1894.

Portrait of Charles Francis Browne.  Date: 1894
Artist: Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  American, 1866–1947
ABOUT THIS ARTWORK:  Currently Off View

SOURCES:

  1. Art Institute of Chicago. Portrait of Charles Frances Brown by Hermon MacNeil.    https://www.artic.edu/artworks/102974/portrait-of-charles-francis-browne
  2. See Also:  M Christine Schwartz Collection.  https://schwartzcollection.com/artist/charles-francis-browne/

 

Judge Thomas Burke Monument, Seattle, Washington by Hermon A. MacNeil


1930 ~ Judge Thomas Burke Memorial by MacNeil

In February 1886, Judge Thomas Burke addressed an angry mob rioting against Chinese immigrants. 

(The Judge’s public appeal occurred in the same year that MacNeil was being born over 3,000 miles away in Everett, Massachusetts), [ 135 years later, Anti-Asian bigotry and Violence against Asians appear to be nothing new . ]

“Judge Thomas Burke played a key role in calming Seattle during the anti-Chinese riots, which occurred in February 1886. Addressing a hostile audience, Burke called upon his considerable stump speaking abilities — one commentator said the Burke “had the golden gift of eloquence which has been likened to that of Patrick Henry” — to point out that minority rights must be respected. Burke also told his listeners that they should be concerned with the city’s reputation. The riots were settled by cooler heads and by the intervention of the 14th U.S. Infantry.” [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

Forty-four years later,

Hermon A. MacNeil

was commissioned to sculpt a fitting memorial to this heroic, civic pioneer of Seattle, Washington. 

The Memorial to Judge Thomas Burke (designed in partnership with famous architect Carl F. Gould* also an 1898-1903 student at École des Beaux Arts in Paris) exhibits MacNeil’s classic Beaux Arts design and allegorical figures. 

Beneath the bronze bas relief of  Burke’s profile, the engraved stone pilaster  reads:  “Patriot, Jurist, Orator, Friend, Patron of Education, First of every Movement for the Advancement of the City and State, Seattle’s Foremost and Best Beloved Citizen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judge Thomas Burke

1930 ~  Thomas Burke

          — Remembered as a Railroad Builder

“Burke came to Seattle in 1875 and formed a law partnership with John J. McGilvra; he soon married McGilvra’s daughter Caroline.[2] He established himself as a civic activist: one of his first projects was to raise funds for a planked walkway from roughly the corner of First and Pike (now site of Pike Place Market) through Belltown to Lake Union.[7]

Cartoon of Thomas Burke, railroad man

He served as probate judge 1876-1880[8] and as chief justice of the Washington Territorial Supreme Court in 1888.[3]

“Irish as a clay pipe,”[9] and well liked by early Seattle’s largely Irish working class, as a lawyer Burke was well known for collecting large fees from his wealthy clients and providing free legal services for the poor.  [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

With a open-heart for the poor and immigrants, Thomas Burke rose not only in the legal profession, but also as a probate judge and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Washington Territory.  He remained a civic and national leader until his dying breathe at age 76.

“Thomas Burke collapsed on December 4, 1925, while addressing the board of the Carnegie Endowment in New York City. Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University, caught him as he fell. He wrote that Burke died “in the midst of an eloquent and unfinished sentence which expressed the high ideals of international conduct.”  [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

Thomas Burke – – – A man well remembered (Obituary HERE)

Hermon MacNeil – – – A Sculptor of Memorials

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Hermon MacNeil sculpted this bust of Dwight L. Moody a century ago during the Flu Pandemic of 1919.   

One hundred years later (In 2019), I visited that MacNeil work in Sage Chapel on site at the Moody’s Northfield Seminary

The photo below records that visit.

Dwight L. Moody by Hermon MacNeil (1919). The century-old work rests Sage Chapel on site at the Moody’s Northfield Seminary. 

 

 

 

 

Click HERE for: Our first Discovery of Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of Evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1920) ~ “We Found It, Uncle Hermon!”

On June 6, 1919, Northfield paid Honors to Moody at the 40th Anniversary Celebration of Founder’s Day in East Northfield, Mass. 

 The  four days of celebration included:

  • A Reception at the home of Principal C. E. Dickerson, Tuesday evening, marked the close of the commencement exercises and celebration of the 40th anniversary of the funding of Northfield Seminary. 
  • The Reunion of nearly five hundred former students and friends returned to Northfield.
  • The occasion honored the founder, Dwight L. Moody.
  • Moody’s youngest granddaughter, Margaret Moody, unveiled the portrait bust by pulling the draping off of her grandfather’s bronze likeness. 
  • Little Margaret is the daughter of  Chaplain Paul D. Moody, son of D. L. Moody and Head of Chaplains for the Allied Expeditionary Force (A.E.F).  
  • The bust is the gift of the alumnae and has graced Sage Memorial Chapel for over a century. 
  • Hermon MacNeil of New York sculpted the bust from a pencil drawing he made of Mr. Moody when the evangelist was in the vigor of his powers and from a death mask provided by the school.
  • MacNeil made the sketches at The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Moody organized  Sunday worship services held in the stadium built by William Cody for his “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.” NO SUNDAY SHOWS were allowed at the Fair.  So, Moody rented it from Cody on Sundays and packed it with fair attenders and local pastors and their congregationschurch
  • It was presented by Mrs. Helen M. Williams of New York City, President of the board of trustees of the Northfield schools.  Another token of the esteem in which Northfield graduates hold their alma mater was the gift of $600 from the class of 1914.

This digital file of the article from the September 1919 issue of the Northfield Alumnae Chronicle is a treasure trove of background information.

  1. The bust was a gift of the Alumnae Association. Many small donations.
  2. Johnson’s presentation speech cites conversations with MacNeil. It is a wonderful piece of Northfield history and affection for Mr. Moody 20 years after his death. .
  3. MacNeil attended one of D. L. Moody’s Meetings in Chicago ( MacNeil was there between 1890-95).
  4. MacNeil made a hasty sketch of Moody at that meeting. He kept his sketch for years. 
  5. MacNeil created the bust of Moody and afterward told the alumnae (Mrs. Johnson (?)) the story of making the sketch.
  6. The bust was presented at a service in Sage Chapel.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1919Jun7-RDC-MoodyBust

 

SOURCES:

  1. Lost New England (retrieved 4-17-2021) [https://lostnewengland.com/category/massachusetts/northfield-massachusetts/]
    East Northfield, Mass. June 6, (1919)
  2. ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.  Saturday, June 7, 1919

 

AT  LAST,

the UNVEILING of the

75-YEAR-OLD

PORTRAIT BUST OF

HERMON A. MACNEIL

BY Jo Davidson

ON THIS THE 155TH ANNIVERSARY OF  MacNEIL’s  BIRTH

As was Jo’s custom, the front plate is signed by the sitter, H.A.MacNeil.

The back is signed by the sculptor, as hundreds of such portrait busts

all over the United States and the world

bear the same signature of this sculptor and a date,

Jo Davidson 1945

Uncle Hermon A. MacNeil

has come home

 to this his website,

 TODAY 

February 27, 2021

the 155th Anniversary of his Birth

on February 27, 1866.

 ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~

I’ve told four “Hermon & Jo” Stories in MacNeil Month 2021

Here’s the fifth one …

Early in 1945…

Jo Davidson

went back to College Point and the Studio of

 Hermon A. MacNeil

where Jo first learned studio work

from the atlier of Hermon MacNeil,

with Henri Crenier and John Gregory 

teasing him mercilessly as the studio boy

While Hermon MacNeil showed Jo through

the menial chores of the studio,

how to work clay, build an armature, make a mold,

and see the stages of making a plaster model

to become a piece that will be cast in bronze.

And thereby flame Jo’s natural talent & burning desire

to become a  sculptor.

And through his gentle personality and kindness,

MacNeil showed Jo respect

and filled some of Jo’s early void of approval

being a FATHER FIGURE unlike Jo’s own Father,

and MacNeil also affirmed Jo’s early exhibit FIGURE of

“David”, the Jewish Boy, fighting an invisible GOLIATH.

And then decades later when

Jo Davidson’s fame and career

had eclipsed even that of MacNeil

or any of his altier assistantsJohn Gregory or Henri Crenier

Jo chose to return to honor his first teacher

by sculpting him in clay

and immortalizing him in BRONZE.

AND NOW WE KNOW, THAT IS JUST WHAT

HE DID !

This bust is Just Gorgeous
An amazing piece and
a more amazing discovery —
for me and this website 
after being out of view
for over 70 years.
 
We  just  Love  IT !  
[Dan Neil Leininger: webmaster]
 

 

 
JO DAVIDSON’S LETTER OF SYMPATHY
  • On Nov. 6, 1947. Jo sent letter of sympathy to Cecelia MacNeil, Hermon’s widow expressing his heartbreak at Hermon’s passing
 
INTERESTING FACTS in this letter:
  • Jo Davidson made this sculpture in the year 1945.
  • He shares his heartbreak over the death.
  • He remembers Hermon’s happiness
  • He will exhibit the bust for the Art World to see & remember
  • He wants Cecelia to come the Exhibition and see the bust.
  • Jo and Flo invited Cecelia to their home for her to visit.
Cecelia was an RN
 
— an Army Nurse during WW I
She nursed Carol Brooks until she died
on July 22, 1944.
 
She nursed Hermon as well four years later until he died
on October 2, 1947.
 
 
 PERSONAL FACTS:
  • I am DANIEL NEIL LEININGER. My middle name comes from  my mother’s maiden name — McNeil.
  • I was born in 1945 the same year this bust was made.

    (June 30, 1945 Daniel Neil Leininger is born in Saint Louis, Missouri)
  • I am the same age as the bust. (just not as good looking)!
  • I was 27 months-old when Hermon died.  I never saw Hermon MacNeil’s face until this BUST arrived.
 
 
Curious QUESTIONs: 
  1. SO did JO make this portrait Bust of HERMON in Jan to April 1945, or NOV-DEC, 1945?
  2. Before or after his 2nd Heart attack in San Francisco?
 
 
 TIMELINE around Jo’s Bust of
 
Hermon MacNeil 
 
TIMELINE of Events when Bust was made:
SourceBetween Sittings … pp. 344-346. (Events from Jo’s narrative. Some public dates filled in)
  • April 12, 1945  Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Jo got the call at Lahaska that afternoon. Jo had known FDR since 1933 when he sculpted the first bust of him White House.  He sculpted two inaugural Medals for FDR.
  • April 18, 1945  Ernie Pyle killed in action.  Jo made his bust in 1942
  • April 22, 1945  Jo Davidson and Florence travel (fly) to Los Angeles., Says he is  exhausted. Jo is distressed self-dosing on nitroglycerin tablets
  • April 24, 1945  Jo Davidson has a 2nd heart attack on the opening evening of the United Nations Conference. 
  • April 25, 1945 Jo Davidson is in St. Mary”s Hospital in San Francisco under an oxygen tent.
  • April 25, 1945 to June 26, 1945 — United Nations Organizational Conference in San Francisco
  • Aug. 14, 1945  Florence tells Jo of Victory-in-Japan Day news report on radio in while he remains in hospital.
  • Sept. – Oct. 1945  For the next Two months Jo was recouping at the Ranch of Ralph Stagpole in Cloverdale CA.  The Stagpoles took in Jo, his nurse, and Florence and helped him get back to health.
  • Oct. 1945. Jo and Flossie returned to their home in Lahaska, NY
  • Nov. 6, 1947. Jo sends letter of sympathy to Cecelia MacNeil, Hermon’s widow expressing his heart break at Hermon’s passing
  • Oct. 2, 1947  DEATH:  Hermon Atkins MacNeil dies at his home in College Point.
  • Nov. 25, 1947 BUST EXHIBITED  ~~ National Institute of Arts and Letters – Retrospective Exhibition of Jo Davidson’s Work.  This bust was a part of that Exhibition
  • 1951  Jo Davidson’s health continues to deteriorate
  • 1951  Jo’s friends Andre Gide & Robert Flaherty died … and Sinclair Lewis
  • Jan. 2, 1952  Jo Davidson dies at his home in Becheron, France.
FYI
 I have ordered a plain black wooden pillar stand (30′ X 12″ X 12″).   It will offer a fitting display for this wonderful tribute to
Hermon A. MacNeil (1866-1947)
Beaux Arts sculptor of Indians and Monuments
 
 
 
 

HERMON MacNEIL AS HE APPEARED ABOUT 1945

Hermon Atkins MacNeil ~ About 1945 ~ when Jo Davidson sculpted him.  Seated outside of his studio in College Point, Queens, NYC. [ Credit: Kenilworth Historical Society donated by Joel Rosenkranz of Conner – Rosenkranz, LLC. ]

 

~~ MacNeil Month – February 27, 2021 ~~

FIFTH Story of “Hermon & Jo” will celebrate the

155th Anniversary of Hermon’s Birth on

February 27th  1866

~~ With the presentation of Jo Davidson’s

tribute to his teacher

Jo’s   bronze portrait bust of

Hermon A. MacNeil

Right HERE

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Here is ONE place to go to see sculpture of Hermon A. MacNeil & his students. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and private, these creations point us toward the history and values that root Americans.

Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.           WATCH US GROW

WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the work from all angles, including setting.
2. Take close up photos of details that you like
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of you & others beside the work.
5. Tell your story of adventure. It adds personal interest.
6. Send photos to ~ Webmaster at: HAMacNeil@gmail.com